Museum open during conservation work

 

Beneath the scaffolding now covering the gateposts and guardhouses of Hyde Park Barracks, Sydney Living Museums is conserving the 200-year-old stonework.

Built by convicts, some surfaces of the sandstone gateposts and walls are fragile and have begun to deteriorate. Our expert team is conserving the stone using traditional materials and methods.

Work will continue for several weeks, but the museum will still be open every day, 10am-5pm.

The work will include careful repointing with lime mortar, grouting behind detached areas of stone, and mortar patches to infill areas of loss. We aim to keep as much of the original fabric as possible, and there will be no new stones inserted in the structure.

The lime mortar between the stones was made from shells, collected by convicts from around the shores of Sydney Harbour then crushed and burned.

The mortar we are using today for the repairs has been carefully mixed onsite using local lime and sand. 

We have covered the scaffolding with timber hoarding and mesh in order to create a microclimate, to encourage the mortar to dry slowly and to prevent cracking and powdering. The curing time of lime mortars can vary according to weather and the nature of the material being preserved. 

This conservation work is being carried out by Deborah Carthy of Carthy Conservation, an expert UK-based stone conservator, working with Sydney-based heritage stonemason Ken Ellis of Artisan of Stone. The work is being guided by Sydney-based architect and stone consultant Nicola Ashurst.

The stonework was previously conserved between 1994-96, however, we now need to revisit that work to address any further deterioration that has since happened. This body of work is part of the planned 10 year capitalised maintenance program funded by NSW Treasury. 

If you’d like further information about the conservation work, please ask museum staff.

About the Author

Fiona seated in hammock in Hyde Park Barracks.
Dr Fiona Starr
Curator
The Mint and Hyde Park Barracks Museum
Fiona claims her love of Australian history, genealogy and world history is hereditary – passed on by her mother and grandmother.

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